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Restoration and the Sacred Mushroom

Did Joseph Smith use Psychedelic Substances
to Facilitate Visionary Experiences?
Presented at the Sunstone Symposium, August 2007
Robert T. Beckstead

Did hallucinogens facilitate Joseph Smith’s visions & those of early Mormon converts? In his 1975 book, Hearts
Made Glad, Lamar Petersen carefully documented the use of intoxicants by Joseph Smith and early converts to
the LDS Church. While mostly interested in the consumption of various fermented and distilled alcohols,
Petersen also noted strange behaviors associated with the sacramental use of what seemed to outside
observers to be medicated wine. It appears that soon after the Church was organized in New York and later in
Ohio, members partook of wine in sacrament meetings which occasioned visionary states and strange
behaviors not typically associated with alcohol consumption or intoxication. It is my thesis that beginning at a
young age, Joseph Smith experimented with psychedelic plants and that many of Joseph Smith revelations and
much of his behavior can be attributed to the use of psychedelics. Following Joseph Smith’s death, the
pragmatic Brigham Young had no interest in psychedelic material, or was unaware of its use, and hence it did
not become a part of Utah Mormonism. However, James Strang and Fredrick M. Smith (Joseph Smith’s
grandson and president of the RLDS Church) perpetuated the use of psychedelics in their branches of Joseph
Smith’s original movement. The use of psychedelics by the Strangites and the RLDS Church could not be
According to the official web site of the LDS Church, in the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith offered a simple
prayer that set into motion a series of events leading to the restoration of the true Church and the truth about
life’s greatest questions.1 But for many early LDS coverts, learning about truth was a second rank endeavor.
Instead, seeking for a personal visionary experience was primary. According to LDS scholar, Richard Bushman,
early Mormon converts were “seekers” whose
… greatest hunger was for spiritual gifts like dreams, visions, tongues, miracles, and spiritual raptures.2

These early Church members sought direct experience with God and believed that Joseph Smith had the
power to grant their desires. Confidence in their Prophet was not misplaced. Between 1829 and 1836, under
the supervision of Joseph Smith, many early Mormon converts enjoyed heavenly visions and spiritual raptures.
While the nature of these visions are a matter of debate, there is no doubt as to the amazing number of
visions experienced by Joseph Smith and early converts during these seven years.

However, after Joseph’s death in 1844, the great visionary period of Church history came to an end. 3 The only
vision recorded in Church of Jesus Christ of LDS scripture (D&C 138 ) is that of Joseph F. Smith dated October
3, 1918. Since 1918, there has be no visionary experience recorded by any of the subsequent presidents of the
LDS Church. Interestingly, the vast majority of Mormons living today believe that Joseph Smith-like visionary
and revelatory experience continues amongst the living “General Authorities” of the Church, but in secret.
However, an Apostle of the LDS Church admitted in 1985 that he had never had such an experience and he
was unaware of anyone living who had. (In person interview of an LDS Church Apostle by the author)
So stark was the dearth of visionary experience that in 1864, twenty years after Joseph Smith’s death,
members would ask Mormon Apostle George A. Smith,
…why it is that we do not see more angels, have more visions, that we do not see greater and more
manifestations of power?4

The mystery seems to center around Joseph Smith himself. According to Richard Bushman, it was Joseph
Smith himself that connected converts to heaven by some power that he possessed, a power that remains a
mystery to this day.5
Indeed, after the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, the only vision recorded in LDS history is that of Joseph F.
Smith dated October 3, 1918. (D&C 138)
But is Joseph Smith’s spiritual power to connect converts with heaven really beyond our ability to investigate
and understand? Over the last 50 years Joseph Smith-like spiritual power has come under examination by an
ever-increasing number of anthropologists, religious historians, ethno botanists and ethno mycologists. It now
appears that spiritual power comparable to that of Joseph Smith can be acquired in the course of consuming
visionary plants, mushrooms and cactus. Otherwise known as psychedelics and hallucinogens, when these
visionary materials are taken in a religious setting, they are often referred to as entheogens. An entheogen is
any substance, such as a plant or drug, taken to occasion a heavenly vision or spiritual rapture. 6 Entheogens
can induce visions during an altered state of waking consciousness and out-of-body and near death
How important are entheogens to the world’s great religions? In 2000, Robert C. Fuller, a leading historian and
interpreter of American religious life wrote that the use of entheogens
… is one of the most mysterious and important subjects in all religious history. Entheogens have figured
prominently in the mystical practice of some of the world’s greatest civilizations. They have been widely
employed in shamanic society and their use continues today throughout the world. They alter
consciousness in such a profound way, that … their effects can range from states resembling psychosis
to what are perhaps the ultimate human experiences, union with god or revelations of other mystical
realities. 7

The psychobiology of non-pharmacologic and pharmacological induced altered states of consciousness is now
a matter of scientific research. Michael Winkelman writes,
Vision-inducing plants (“hallucinogens”) are important in many societies, evoking powerful emotional,
psychological, cognitive, religious, spiritual, therapeutic and political reactions. These substances’
psychophysiological properties shape cross- cultural similarities in patterns of use and experiences,
while political factors shape their cultural desirability. Neurological studies illustrate that common
effects are based in intervention in serotonergic neurotransmission. Effects upon neural, sensory,

emotional, and cognitive processes stimulate integrative information processing, justifying a new term“psychointegrators.” Psychointegrators disinhibit sensory and emotional processes. They stimulate
systemic integration of brain information-processing functions, enhancing integration of limbic system
self and emotional dynamics with neocortical processes. Their therapeutic applications are reviewed
from perspectives of cross-cultural and clinical studies. (Abstract from: Psychointegrators:
Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Therapeutic Effects of Hallucinogens, Michael Winkelman. Arizona
State University Tempe, AZ)

Just how legitimate are visions and raptures occasioned by entheogens? Religious historian Huston Smith
wrote that the use of entheogenic material is able to occasion an “experience that is indistinguishable from, if
not identical with” those of religious mystics.8 For instance, in an article published in Life Magazine May 13th
1957, R. Gordon Wasson, the “father of ethnomycology”, reported the discovery of a divine mushroom that
could easily occasion visions and ecstasies. Wasson wrote,
On the night of June 29, 1955… I shared with a family of Indians a celebration of “holy communion”
where “divine” mushrooms where first adored and then consumed.9

Wasson then reports,
Now I am seeing for the first time, seeing direct, without the intervention of mortal eyes … vistas
beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time, to enter other planes of
existence, even to know God.10

But Wasson’s experience isn’t an isolated example of psychedelics ability to reproduce a transpersonal,
religious experience. In 1961, Huston Smith ingested peyote cactus and made a similar report.
I noted mounting tension in my body that turned into tremors in my legs … I [began] experiencing … the
clear, unbroken Light… I was now seeing … with the force of the sun, in comparison with which everyday
experience reveals only flickering shadows in a dim cavern… [I saw] worlds within worlds.11

In a 2000 essay, Huston explains that through an etheogen, he experience the ultimate reality.
The personal word is this: I was initiated to the entheogens through Timothy Leary and psilocybin in his
home in Newton on New Year’s Day, 1961. The day didn’t change my woridview, for the Great Chain of
Being had already moved to the center of my convictions through thirty years of jnanic work with the
great religions. What the day accomplished, you will not be surprised to hear, was to enable me for the
first time to experience the respective levels of the Chain, all the way to its top. The dominant effects of
the experience were two: awe (which I had known conceptually as the distinctive religious emotion but
had never before experienced so intensely) and certainty. There was no doubting that the Reality I
experienced was ultimate. That conviction has remained.11b

From the 1950’s to present, an increasingly large volume of data has been assembled in the quest to
understand the use of entheogens in important religious and mystery traditions. Hebrew, Mexico, Central and
South America, India, China, Siberia, Europe, and ancient Greece, Christian and Alchemical mythic-religious
systems often refer to visionary plants or fungi.15 The result has been a maturing theory of entheogens and the
origins of religion. In September 2006, Michael S. Hoffman summarized what is now believed by many to be
the relationship between religion and entheogens. 12

The entheogen theory of religion holds that the main origin and ongoing wellspring of religion is
visionary plants… [such as] Peyote … Datura … and Amanita muscaria mushrooms. Visionary plants have
been commonly used around the world throughout the history of religion and culture,13 including the
various forms of Western Esotericism.14

More recently, in the premier issue of Time and Mind, Benny Shannon, Professor of psychology at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem (Israel).
In his book Poisons Sacrés, Ivresses Divines [sacred poisons, divine intoxication] (which, to my
knowledge, has not been translated into English), Philippe de Félice (1970 [1936]) reviews various
cultures throughout the world and notes the use of psychotropic substances in them. The use of such
substances, most of which fall in our contemporary Western culture under the label “drug,” has in many
traditions been considered sacred. Indeed, de Félice points out that in many religions, both in the old
world and in the new, the use of such substances was (and often still is) central. The substances, or the
plants from which they were produced, were deemed holy and at times even divine. De Félice puts
forward the hypothesis that the use of psychotropic substances is deeply embedded in human culture
and intrinsically intertwined with what he characterizes as the most basic human instinct—the search
for transcendence. Thus, he proposes, the use of psychotropic substances is at the root of perhaps all
religions. (Time and Mind Volume 1, Issue 1, March 2008, pp. 51-74 )

In the patients to successfully treat mental disorders and the anxiety associated with the diagnosis of cancer.
The Fox News Networks broadcast a segment about the psychedelic substance “Psilocybin” and asked the
question “Can this dangerous party drug help extend the life of terminally ill patients?” The cases of two
patients were reviewed followed by a short statement of the principle investigator, Dr. Charles Grob professor
of Psychiatry at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Grob makes this additional comments
It might even facilitate a powerful psychispiritual or even mystical experience which does appear to have
a therapeutic impact.

If entheogens can shed light on some of the world’s most important religions, including possibly early
Christianity, is it possible that they may also shed light on the rise of Mormonism, America’s most successful
religion? In order to address this question, it seems reasonable to consider the motive, opportunity and
evidence to suggest that Joseph Smith employed entheogens to occasion heavenly visions and spiritual
Motive to Administer Entheogens
What would motivate Joseph Smith to use entheogens? One possible answer is that without entheogens,
most visions and raptures come only after years of disciplined meditation or severe physical austerity. Ake
Hultkranz, retired professor of comparative religion16 explains that the popularity of entheogens … is partly
due to the fact that visions are rendered easily accessible, and fasting, isolation, and self-torture17 are
Terence McKenna, speaker and philosopher, is widely known to be experienced in the use of psychedelics and
the meditative arts. McKenna believes that meditative and other spiritual practices were developed as tools to
enhance and guide the psychedelic experience. His views in a small discussion group are summarized (with
minor editing) as follows:

Q. Are you against meditation in favor of the psychedelics experience? A: If by meditation you mean
lying down or sitting up and close your eyes, I do that a lot and I like it but would never confuse it with
the psychedelic enterprise. I think they are completely different realms of human activity. With
meditation, you don’t hallucinate. [Some may] say you do, but they aren’t very convincing. [And when
you fail to hallucinate with meditation] the monks rush over and explain that you are doing it wrong.
Q. Do you think you have the same revelatory experience with meditation? A: I really don’t. All these
spiritual techniques are not substitutions for the psychedelic experience but trade-offs. I think that all of
these techniques … work incredibly well in the presence of psychedelics leading me to suppose that
what these are tools that were developed in the Paleolithic world of psychedelic magic and all we have
now is all these tools but we don’t have the original engine that drove them. I am very bored by spiritual
practice unless I’ve taken a psychedelic; then mantric chanting is beyond the power of mind to
encompass or describe. [Psychedelics] seems to be a general functional enhancement [of spiritual
techniques]. Acoustical driving (drumming) is also a tried and true tradition. It’s not about the exclusivity
of methods but the combinations of method. What you want to do is beat your drum while sitting in
yum, yum [position] while stoned on “x”, while at the holy mount, while the astrological configuration is
correct and then line it all up and push it through, that’s the way to do it.

While most will not achieve a “revelatory experience” with meditation alone, there are techniques which may
facilitate such experiences in a limited number of devotes. For instance, William Buhlman has developed
several out-of-body meditation techniques that has been successful in some cases. Techniques developed by
Stephen LaBarge are able to produce lucid dreams. In lucid dreaming, the dreamer becomes conscious during
the dream and in some cases may be enveloped in a religious epiphany. Joseph Smith is known to have used a
seer stone to see buried treasure and to “translate” the Book of Mormon. The technique is called scrying and
as discussed by Clay L. Chandler, is another technique to enter revelatory realms.
However, these techniques are relatively unreliable for most seekers and often takes years of practice to
produce meaningful revelatory results. It is becoming apparent that meditation, fasting and religious
ceremony may not be primary causes of visionary states and spiritual raptures but instead in many cases play
a supportive role for the use of entheogens. Michael Hoffman notes
Meditation, shamanic drumming, and liturgical ritual were developed as activities to do in the plantinduced [visionary] state, not as methods of inducing the [visionary] state in the first place.18

In other words, if Joseph Smith employed entheogens, he met the requirement to place himself and early
Mormon converts in the express lane to spiritual powers without the need for years of meditation, repetitive
religious ritual or severe physical austerities.
Access and Training to Administer Entheogens
How available were entheogens to Joseph Smith. In 1998, Richard Evans Schultes, former director of the
Botanical Museum of Harvard University and the “father of ethnobotany” identified three culturally important
entheogens available in the area Joseph lived and traveled: Datura plant, Amanita muscaria mushroom and
peyote cactus.

Culturally Significant Major Entheogens
Accessable from Where Joseph Smith Lived
According to Richard Evans Schultes
Peyote Cactus

Amanita muscaria
(Fly Amanita)

(Angel’s Trumpet)

C. Jess Groesbeck, who studied with a Huichol Indian Shaman, has shown that the model of Joseph Smith as a
shamanic personality is a comprehensible way to understand and embrace Joseph’s life and work.
Groesbeck defines shaman:
Mircea Eliade, a great historian of religion said, “This is the particular type of medicine man, holy man or
healer who through the controlled use of trance or ecstasy communicates directly with the spirits and
realities of the other world for the benefit of his community.” Ake Hulkrantz stated that a shaman is a
social functionary who with the help of guardian spirits obtained ecstasy in order to create rapport with
the supernatural world on behalf of the individual or group members and his power comes from direct
experience. Other people such as priests and other official healers and representatives often do this
through technology or indirectly through various structures or systems or mythological structures,
whereas the shaman, if he is truly in that character has the direct experiences and in fact becomes the
creator, as we shall see, and synthesizer of the symbolic experiences, these otherworldly experiences for
a new system of religion or belief or understanding or healing…
They ultimately have an experience through ecstasy, through trance, through dissociation. They then go
to the other world and have contact usually with animals, an animal of some kind. And that animal then
will give them their personal powers. Through this experience, many times, they will go through
dismemberment experiences where they themselves will see in vision themselves being dismembered
and then put back together. Later, when they have these personal powers, they often have the powers
of telepathy, psychokinesis, precognition, the ability to interpret dreams and then also to see. They are
often seers and they use sacred objects such as stones by which to visualize. And then they have helping
spirits or agents who come to them and who work with them.19

It is possible that AmerIndian Shaman were mentors for Joseph Smith in his use of entheogens. There is
reason to believe that Joseph Smith was familiar with Indian chief. Charles M. Larson writes that a fragment of
the Egyptian papyrus purchased by Joseph Smith in 1835

was given to an Indian chief as a token of respect. (Charles M. Larson, … By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus:
A new look at the Joseph Smith Papyri, Institute for Religious Research, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1992, p.
78, note 230 states, “This was the basis for the article in the February, 1968 Improvement Ears, p. 40-A
through 40- G…”)

Mircea Elliade, during his early work, was not convinced that the use of psychedelics was an important aspect
of indigenous shamanic work. However, just before he died, he reversed his position recognizing the nearly
universal use of psychedelics by indigenous shaman.
Michael Cole, the Charles J. MacCurdy professor emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University and curator
emeritus of the Division of Anthropology at the school’s Peabody Museum of Natural History also believes that
Joseph Smith is best described as a Shaman. Speaking of Joseph Smith, Cole explains
This extraordinary man, who put together a religion—probably with many falsities in it, falsehoods, so
forth, to begin with—eventually came to believe in it so much that he really bought his own story and
made it believable to other people. In this respect, he’s a lot like a shaman in anthropology: these
extraordinary religious practitioners in places like Siberia, North America among the Eskimo, the Inuit,
who start out probably in their profession as almost like magicians doing magic. (PBS Interview, May
16th 2006)

Algonquin Indian shamans inhabiting the region from the Atlantic seaboard running north through eastern and
central Canada and south to the Ohio River are known to have used both Datura plant and Amanita Muscaria
mushroom in their religious ceremonies.20 Since Jess Groesbeck has shown that many aspects of Joseph
Smith’s visionary career is consistent with Amerindian shamanism, it is possible that Joseph Smith was
mentored by an Algonquin shaman.
John Heinerman has demonstrated Joseph Smith’s interest in Thomsonian herbal medicine. Thomsonian
medicine was inspired by early American root doctors using magical plants to occasion cures. According to
Catherine Yronwode, “root doctoring” is an admixture of the hoodoo magical practices of African-American
slaves mingled with the botanical knowledge of the Amerindian medicine man.21 Root doctors are known to
have used the visionary Datura plant in their magical practices.22 A possible mentor for Joseph Smith in the use
of Datura was Black Pete. Black Pete, an African-American was called a revelator and a chief suggesting that he
was also a root doctor. Black Pete was initially from Pennsylvania and in 1825 may have met the young Joseph
Smith digging for buried treasure. After leaving Pennsylvania, Black Pete became one of the earliest converts
in Kirtland Ohio joining the Church in early 1831. Black Pete was present during the Kirtland visionary period of
early 1831 when the strange manifestations likely associated with Datura plant ingestion were particular
D. Michael Quinn and Lance S. Owens have shown that Joseph Smith incorporated elements of ceremonial
magic and alchemy imported from Europe.23 Alchemists are believed to have employed the visionary Amanita
muscaria mushroom in their occult practices24 and Lance Owens identifies a possible alchemical mentor for
Joseph Smith by the name of Dr. Luman Walter. 25 Quinn writes,
As previously discussed, folk magic and the occult involved training, practice, and inner “gifts” to be an adept.
Academic magic required occult texts, hundreds of which were available in English by the 1800s (see Ch. 1,
and above). Folk magic’s universal source of instruction was the occult’s oral tradition which summarized
centuries-old writings for all classes of people. Many people gained occult knowledge from both directions.
Aside from verbal transmission of occult knowledge, some adepts also furnished practical training to
interested persons. (Quinn. Early Mormonism. 116)

There is evidence that Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, used seer stones, and Joseph may have gained most
of his knowledge regarding their use from her, but Quinn also points to the probability that Joseph had one or
more occult mentors, Luman Walters being primary among them. (Clay L. Chandler, Scrying for the Lord:
Magic, Mysticism, and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 36,
No. 4, Winter 2003. p. 43
Joseph Smith may have also been in contact with Amerindian shaman familiar with the use of the visionary
Peyote cactus. The Peyote cactus grows in an extensive area surrounding the middle and lower Rio Grande
River. Amerindian Peyote cults spread northeast from these areas to the plains states many years after Joseph
Smith died.
However, an ancient Amerindian trade route led from the Peyote fields through a major trade center to the
Northeast where Joseph Smith resided.26 It is very probable that Peyote was transported along this route and
found its way into Joseph Smith’s hands because at the time of his death, Joseph possessed a seer stone
shaped in the form of the visionary Peyote cactus button.
Use of Entheogens to Discover and Translate the Gold Plates
It has been reported that Joseph Smith was typically intoxicated while discovering and translating the Book of
Mormon. According to Lu B. Cake, Joseph Smith was intoxicated during his “vision of Moroni” dated
September 21, 1823. LeMar Petersen notes,
At what age and in what capacity Vermont-born Joseph, Jr. arose to prominence is a moot point among
his biographers. Mormon historians have dated his fame from the vision of the Gods in the Sacred Grove
in 1820.* Others, less credulous, have insisted that Joseph’s notoriety sprang from participation in
necromantic arts accompanied by frequent tilts of the bottle. Joseph’s self-admitted foibles were not
charitably viewed by critics who were willing to place the worst possible interpretation on them. I.
Woodbridge Riley, in a Yale University thesis for which he was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree
in 1902, accused:
“What took place between the first and second visions was described by Joseph as the ‘weakness
of youth, foolish errors, divers temptations and gratifications of appetites offensive in the sight of
God.’ Stripped of verbiage this means, for one thing, - drunkenness.” 12
A lurid monograph certain not to win a degree for its author was Lu B. Cake’s Peepstone Joe Exposed
( which appeared
just prior to Riley’s psychological study. Adding an introduction to the presentation of a manuscript by
Reed Peck (an officer in the Danite band whose testimony helped put Joseph in Liberty jail in 1838),
Cake wrote:
“September 21, 1823 Joe got drunk, swore, lied and swindled, contrary to revelation. Train up a
child in the way he should not go and when he is eighteen years old like Joe Smith, he will not
depart from it. Yet Joe claims that while in bed this drunken September 21st, an angel came to
him, told him the history of the ancient inhabitants of America was engraven on gold plates and
hidden in a hill between Manchester and Palmyra, in western New York. Whether it was angel, or
alcohol, that gave Joe inspiration is the question; for although drunk on September 21st, yet on
September 22nd he claims that he found the plates in the place to which he was directed.”14

Inasmuch as Peck had not referred to Joseph’s inebriety in the MS, it may be that Cake obtained
his information by direct revelation. (LeMar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad: Charges of Intemperance
Against Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet. 1975. Self-Published. Salt Lake City. 44-45)

Intoxication can explain Joseph Smith’s visionary experiences but not intoxication with alcohol. Having worked
in an Emergency Department for over 30 years, I have never seen an intoxicated patient who was actively
hallucinating unless there was pre-existing alcohol induced central nervous system damage. If we accept that
Joseph Smith was intoxicated and link that intoxication to visions, the only intoxicant class capable of doing
that is psychedelics such as Amanita Muscaria mushroom, Datura and Mescaline containing cactus.
It is possible that Joseph was intoxicated with a hallucinogen during the visionary experiences surrounding his
September 1923 vision and later enabling him to see sentences in spiritual light while excluding natural light
using a seer stone placed in the hat. Joseph Smith was intoxicated while translating the Book of Mormon.
LeMar Petersen notes:
One of Emma Hale Smith’s cousins, Levi Lewis, son of Reverend Nathaniel Lewis of the Methodist
Church, made affidavit that while Joseph was in Harmony, Pennsylvania he “saw him intoxicated three
different times while he was composing the Book of Mormon.”55
Another who reported that Joseph drank too much liquor while translating was Martin Harris, first scribe
for the modern scripture. When the wine goes in, strange things come out. 64 But after censure from
the High Council at Kirtland he amended the charge to “this thing occurred previous to the translation of
the Book.” Shalemanasseh (one of Martin’s spiritual names in the Doctrine and Covenants 82:11) then
confessed that his mind was darkened, and that he had said many things inadvertently, calculated to
wound the feelings of his brethren, and promised to do better. 57 (LeMar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad:
Charges of Intemperance Against Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet. 1975. Self-Published. Salt Lake
City. 65-66)

This is not to suggest that Joseph Smith wasn’t frequently intoxicated on alcohol. The evidence is clear that he
was. However, alcohol is an excellent vehicle to administer both Amanita and Datura. That Joseph Smith was
knowledgable about the use of medicated alcohol is found in the Book of Mormon. LeMar Petersen notes,
The scene with the Missouri jailors is reminiscent of a scene concerning the wicked Lamanites in the first
edition of the Book of Mormon:
“And many times did they atempt to administer of their wine to the Nephites, that they might
destroy them with poison or with drunkenness. But behold, the Nephites were not slow to
remember the Lord their God, in this their times of affliction. They could not be taken in their
snares; yea, they would not partake of their wine; yea, they would not take of wine, save they had
firstly given to some of the Lamanite prisoners. And they were thus cautious, that no poison
should be administered among them; for if their wine would poison a Lamanite, it would also
poison a Nephite; and thus they did try all their liquors.16
In Mormon belief the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon were the ancestors of the American Indian. It is
fortunate the Lamanite wine-tasters of old were spared a sampling of the potent brew prepared for
their Missouri descendants. This heady recipe for Indian firewater was given by “Teddy Blue” Abbott
(born 1860) in We Pointed Them North:
“You take one barrel of Missouri River water, and two gallons of alcohol. Then you add two
ounces of strychnine to make them crazy - because strychnine is the greatest stimulant in the
world -and three plugs of tobacco to make them sick-an Indian wouldn’t figure it was whisky

unless it made him sick - and five bars of soap to give it a bead, and half a pound of red pepper,
and then you put in some sagebrush and boil it until it’s brown. Strain into a barrel, and you’ve got
your Indian whisky; that one bottle calls for one buffalo robe and when the Indian got drunk it was
two robes.” (LeMar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad: Charges of Intemperance Against Joseph Smith
the Mormon Prophet. 1975. Self-Published. Salt Lake City. 150-151)

Intoxication and visionary experience is hinted at in the Book of Mormon. A more through discussion of the
“bitterness” or bitter taste of psychedelics and the “opening” of one’s eyes was tangentially expressed by
LeMar Petersen.
Though Joseph’s philosophy was only partially hedonistic a good case for sin could be made from certain
Book of Mormon passages. The patriarch Lehi explained to his son Jacob that sin was necessary and
desirable in the Garden of Eden, otherwise Adam and Eve
“would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence,
having no joy, for they knew no misery, doing no good, for they knew no sin.”
Moral: To do good, one must sin; transgression is essential. This precept may well be the key to Joseph
Smith’s ambivalence in drink habits and in those areas of behavior generally defined as moralistic. He
often affirmed that “what many people call sin is not sin,” and “there must needs be opposition in all
things.” The most oft-quoted phrase in Mormonism, next to “The glory of God is Intelligence,” is “Adam
fell that man might be, and man is that he might have joy.” In Mormon belief the fall was upward.34
In Joseph’s scriptures Adam blessed God
“for because of my transgression [eating from the tree of knowledge] my eyes are opened, and in
this life I shall have joy,” and Eve, the abettor, seconded, “were it not for our transgression we
never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil.”
The Lord explained to Adam,
“Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin
conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.”
And though conceived in sin
“every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall,
men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.”
Nevertheless, “since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself.” The difficulty of reconciling
such passages with God’s first command in Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth”
seemed not to disturb the modern Revelator.35
Did not God countermand his own word in,
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou
eatest thereof thou shalt surely die?”
(LeMar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad: Charges of Intemperance Against Joseph Smith the Mormon
Prophet. 1975. Self-Published. Salt Lake City. 158-159)

The connection between eating, the initial bitter taste and eventual sweetness of joy while apparently
metaphorical is also an excellent description of the effects of ingesting psychedelics many of which are bitter

but eventually envelop the inbiber in spiritual raputures of love. How this might relate to Joseph Smith
Senior’s dreams and Joseph Smith Junior’s “tree of life” will be discussed below.
Opportunity to Administer Entheogens
Is there evidence to suggest that Joseph Smith gifted new converts with visionary experience by adding a
visionary plant such as Datura to sacramental wine? According to LaMar Petersen in his 1975 book, Hearts
Made Glad the answer is probably yes.27 Petersen noted a correlation in early Mormonism between the
ingestion of sacramental wine and visionary experience. In the very first conference of the Church in June
1830 at Fayette, New York,
Joseph Smith recorded
… we partook together of the emblems of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ … many of our
members … had the heavens opened to their view, [and beheld Jesus Christ].28

Heavenly manifestations occurred in a March 18th 1833 sacrament meeting held in Kirtland Ohio under the
direction of Joseph Smith.
Bro Joseph … promise[d] that the pure in heart that were present should see a heavenly vision … after
which the bread and wine was distributed by Bro Joseph after which many of the brethren saw a
heavenly vision of the savior and concourses of angels.29

In the afternoon of March 27th 1833, Ebenezer Robinson reported that after the administration of the bread
and wine
Frederick G. Williams bore record that a holy angel of God came and sat between him and Joseph Smith,

A meeting in which visions were occasioned by the application of anointing oil, which can also be laced with
entheogenic material31 occurred on January 21, 1836. Joseph Smith was anointed first and in turn he anointed
several of the Brethren. Joseph reported that after the anointing,
The heavens were opened upon us and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof,
whether in the body or out I cannot tell… Joseph said that many of the brethren “saw glorious visions

Pentecost for Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling.
Thursday January 21 1836 A new kind of washing; one for the whole body was instituted, following OT
practices. Joseph’s journal: “We attended to the ordinance of washing our bodies in pure water. We also
perfumed our bodies and our heads, in the name of the Lord” Oliver C gave a fuller description of the W
and A. No spiritual, otherworldly things mentioned.
When the brethren met the following Thursday, they added an anointing with oil. Joseph and six other
men attended to this. They poured the oil on the heads and then rubbed their hands over his anointed
face and head. In Exodus it called for calumus and myrrh and sweet cinnamon. Cinnamon was all these
poor saints could afford to mix with the oil. Hmmm?

After Joseph’s anointing he wrote, “the heavens opened upon us and I beheld the celestial kingdom of
God and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell.” “Streets of gold” “Alvin” etc. All
through the night Joseph had visions. “Many of the other brethren saw visions also.” JS. After the
presidency Joseph anointed the bishops of Kirtland and Clay County with their counselors. Edward
Partridge wrote “a number of them saw visions and others were blessed with outpouring of the Holy
Ghost. The vision of heaven was opened to these also, some of them saw the face of the Saviour and
others were ministered unto by holy angels.” At 1am they sang a song and went home.
The next day no one could concentrate on school. They wanted to talk over “the glorious scenes that
transpired on the preceding evening.” That evening the twelve and the seventy underwent same.
Following the ordinances “toungs, fell upon us in mighty pow[e]r, angels mingled their voices with ours,
while their presence was in our midst, and unseasing prasis swelled our bosoms for the space of half an
hour.” Joseph said “the spirit and visions attended me through the night.”
Six days later they did anointings for high priests and then quorum. Through January and February, the
brethren read Hebrew by day, and washed, anointed, and prayed, and beheld visions by night. He went
home weary.
Some quorums did not comply with everything they were asked to do one Sat. early in Feb. They were
not standing and speaking when they had a spiritual experience. Hyrum and Oliver went to request
them to observe order but they said that “they had a teacher of their own and did not wish to be
troubled by others.” Joseph said, “This quorem lost the[e]ir blessing in a great measure.” A “cloud of
darkness” filled the elders’ room, their minutes reported, while the more careful quorums “enjoyed a
great flow of the holy spirit” that was “like fire in their bones.”
At the temple dedication on Mar 27 they did all the tedious sustainings, then the dedicatory prayer.
Some said they saw angels etc. But the congregation did NOT see the face of God. The level of spiritual
manifestations did not equal the outpourings of January and Feb. Bushman says. Mar 29 washing of feet
and sacramental wine. Holy Spirit, prophecying and giving glory all night in temple Mar 30 about 300
people joined them in the temple. More tubs more towels, bread and wine. Prophecying and speaking in
tongues. Exhausted after the all night session the presidency retired but the rest of the brethren
remained, “exhorting, prophecying, speaking in tongues” until 5am. A few skeptics wondered if the
brethren had become drunk on sacramental wine, but according to JS journal the nonstop Tues and
Wed meetings were, finally, the endowment. (What they wanted to happen at the dedication) The next
Sunday about 1000 people attended (they must have heard about that great wine huh?) the morning
service. To their surprise (J and O?) the spiritual experiences in the temple were not over. Behind a veil J
and O saw the Savior standing on the breastwork of the pulpit. Bushman says, What could this
staggering experience have meant to J and O? (They had too much sacramental wine maybe) Joseph
seemed to be stilled by the event. They saw Moses ELIAS and Elijah but after this no mention of the
experience in D&C during J lifetime. The Book of Abraham’s weirdo stuff started to happen after this
two month high. No wonder it is such a messed up thing.

On March 30, 1836 during the dedication week of the Kirtland temple the Millennial Star reported that nearly
five hundred brethren gathered in expectation of a spiritual Pentecost.
The bread and wine were then brought in… The Savior made His appearance to some, while angels
ministered to others.33

Charles L. Walker recorded that when the brethren had

… partaken of the Lord’s supper, namely a piece of bread as big as your double fist and half a pint of
wine in the temple … the Holy Ghost descend upon the heads of those present like cloven tongues of

Following consumption of sacramental bread and wine on the afternoon of April 3 rd 1836, Joseph Smith and
Oliver Cowdery retired to the pulpit where a series of visions were opened to them including the appearance
of Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah.35
Then in a meeting on May 1st 1836, Ebenezer Robinson36 remembered
… when we partook of consecrated bread and wine … some testified of having the visions of heaven
opened to their view.37

Can untainted wine and pure anointing oil have occasioned heavenly visions or spiritual raptures of early
Church converts? The answer is probably not. Alcohol related hallucinations only occur after years of abuse
and abrupt withdrawal. Therefore visions associated with the ingestion of wine argue strongly for the
surreptitious inclusion of an entheogen such as the visionary Datura plant.
Evidence of Datura Use
What evidence is there that the plant Datura occasioned early Mormon convert visions rather than hypnosis,
mass hysteria or spontaneous religious experience? Datura has been shown to be over 80 percent effective in
creating a visionary experience whereas hypnosis is much less reliable, probably less than 10 percent. An even
smaller percentage, likely less than 1 percent, will experience spontaneous heavenly visions. Datura would not
only account for the high percentage of early Church converts having visionary experience following the
ingestion of sacramental wine, but may also explain the accompanying untamed thoughts and behaviors that
attended early Mormon sacrament meetings.
Lamar Petersen noted that the drinking of sacramental wine in the early days of the Church occasioned
“unusual spiritual manifestations” of such a shocking nature they “impaired the image of the young Church
among sober people.”38 In early 1831, sacrament meetings held at the Kirkland Ohio farm of Isaac Morley
produced both visions and scandalous behavior. A Kirtland Ohio schoolteacher, Jesse Moss observed
They partook of the Lords supper at night with darkened windows and excluded from the room all but
their own till they got through and then opened the doors and called the outsiders in to witness a scene
far exceeding the wildest scene ever exhibited among the Methodists.39

What were the wild scenes associated with early Mormon administration of sacramental wine?

George A.


David Whitmer41

Parley P. Pratt42

Joseph Smith43

Undisciplined Scenes

Unnatural distortions
Extravagant and wild ideas

Wielded the sword of Laban as expertly as a light dragoon
Acted like an Indian in the act of scalping
Slid on the floor with the rapidity of a serpent, sailing in boats to preach to the

Unseemly gestures
Falling into ecstasies

Bound hand and foot in chains as immovable as a stick of timber
Getting on the stumps of trees and shouting Pursuing balls flying in the air and
jumping of a cliff.

As shown in the table above, George A. Smith reported that members in Kirtland manifested unnatural
distortions and extravagant and wild ideas.44 David Whitmer said that members wielded the sword of Laban as
expertly as a light dragoon, behaved like Indians in the act of scalping, slid on the floor with the rapidity of a
serpent, sailed in boats to preach to the Lamanites.45 Parley P. Pratt reported swoons, unseemly gestures,
cramps and falling into ecstasies.46 Joseph Smith himself noted manifestations of insanity, members becoming
immovable as though bound hand and foot.47
Joseph Smith reportedly was not present at these Kirtland meetings and disavowed the manifestations as
being of a lying spirit. However, Joseph Smith’s own first vision was attended by similar strange thoughts and
behaviors. Eldon Watson who harmonized Joseph’s nine accounts of the first vision notes the following
aberrations from normal thinking and bodily function.48
A Harmony: Excerpted
For Full Accounts Click Here
Arranged by Elden J. Watson with References
All of these signs and symptoms described below can be produced by hallucinogens, especially Amanita
Muscaria Mushroom and Datura Species!
Incapacitation (An effect of anticholinergic)

1839 I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was <siezed> upon by some power which entirely
overcame me… But exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this
enemy which had siezed upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and
abandon myself to destruction, not to an imaginary ruin but to the power of some actual being from

the unseen world who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being… It [the light]
no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.
Normal Vision Impared, Darkened (Dilation of pupils, blurry vision, marked decrease in vision)

1839 I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was <siezed> upon by some power which entirely
overcame me. Thick darkness gathered around me and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed
to sudden destruction.
1840 At first, he was severely tempted by the powers of darkness, which endeavored to overcome him;
1842B At first, he was severely tempted by the powers of darkness, which endeavoured to overcome

Anxiety and Strange Visuals (Early paranoia and unorganized visual distortions/hallucinations)

1842B The adversary benighted his mind with doubts, and brought to his soul all kinds of improper
pictures and tried to hinder him in his efforts and the accomplishment of his goal.

Tongue Felt Swollen & Stuck to Roof of Mouth (Anticholinergic drying effect on mouth)

1835 My tongue seemed to be swoolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter
1839 and <had> such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.
1844 his tongue was closet cleaveh to his roof--could utter not a word,

He heard strange sounds (Auditory Hallucinations)

1835 I heard a noise behind me like some one walking towards me: I strove again to pray, but could
not; the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer; I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no
person, or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking.

Withdrawl from Physical Sensations (As Physical Incapitation Increases, Thinking Switches from External
Sensations to Inner Realities)

1842B However, the overflowing mercy of God came to buoy him up, and gave new impulse and
momentum to his dwindling strength. Soon the dark clouds disappeared, and light and peace filled his
troubled heart.
1840 but he continued to seek for deliverance, until darkness gave way from his mind … When [the
light]first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and
immediately, his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded;
and he was enwapped in a heavenly vision,
1842A while fervently engaged in supplication my mind was taken away from the objects with which I
was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision
1842B At this sacred moment his mind was caught away from the natural objects with which he was
surrounded, and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision,

Brilliant light (Extremely Common with Hallucinogens)

1832 a pillar of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and
rested upon me.

1835 A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me
with unspeakable joy.
1839 Just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar <of> light exactly over my head, above the
brightness of the sun, which descended gracefully gradually untill it fell upon me.
1840 he at length, saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to
be a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending
towards him; and as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness and magnitude, so that, by the time that
it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around was illuminated in a
most glorious and brilliant manner. He expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the trees
consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but perceiving that it did not produce that
effect, he was encouraged with the hope of being able to endure its presence. It continued descending
slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it.
1842A surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day.
1843 Directly I saw a light,
1844 -saw a fire toward heaven came near and nearer;
1850 While he was thus engaged, he was surrounded by a brilliant light.

Psychodramatic Theophany (The sought after psychedelic experience)

1832 and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me
Content well known. See Accounts of First Vision

Return of Physical Sensations (Waning of the hallucinatory experience and gradual return of normal
physiological functioning).

1839 When I came to myself again I found myself lying on <my> back looking up into Heaven… When
the light had departed I had no strength, but soon recovering in some degree,
1840 after which, the vision withdrew,
1842B after which, the vision withdrew,
1843 The vision then vanished, and when I came to myself, I was sprawling on my back …and it was
some time before my strength returned.
1844 I endeavored to arise but felt uncommon feeble-1850 after which the vision withdrew

Afterglow of Hallucinatory Experience (Antidepressant Effect of Psychedelics)

1832 and my Soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord
was with me
1840 leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace, indescribable.
1842B leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace indescribable.
1850 leaving his mind in a state of calmness and peace.

Joseph’s tongue would not function, he heard strange sounds and sprang to his feet but saw nothing, he was
seized upon and could not move, his vision was severely impaired, he saw all kinds of “improper pictures”, he
believed he was going to be destroyed, he felt a peculiar sensation course through his entire body, he lost
consciousness and awoke to find himself sprawling on his back and was unable to get up for some time.

Joseph Smith personified these strange manifestations as the actions of a being from the unseen world. This is
consistent with Joseph’s analysis of the bizarre manifestations in 1831 Kirtland Ohio as being the responsibility
of a lying spirit. However, Joseph would contradict this view in 1843 when he explained that evil spirits can
neither manipulate the physical world nor occasion strange physical manifestations. Joseph explained to
apparently worried Church members that if such a being was encountered and attempted to physically
interact, nothing at all would be felt.49
Rather than the devil being responsible for the peculiar manifestations attending the first vision and early
Church convert visions, it is much more likely that Datura plant was involved.
Clinical Effects of Datura
Hallucinations (83%)
Pupil Dilatation
Dry mucus membranes
Vasomotor instability
Delirium, paranoia (central stimulation)

Muscle abnormalities (jerks, myclonic
movements, choreoathetosis)
Unconsciousness (central depression)
Onset: 1-4 hours Duration: 24-48 hours

Correlates with LDS Visions
Dry mouth, can’t speak
Facial color changes (initially flushed, then white as blood
pressure falls)
Unfounded fears, feeling of impending death, acting like
or preaching to Indians, crawling, wallowing, chasing balls
flying through the air.
Facial and body contortions, feeling bound
Experiences lasted hours to days.

As noted above, datura is over 80% reliable in occasioning hallucinations and visions. It also causes pupil
dilatation and near blindness, dry mucus membranes making it difficult to speak; vasomotor instability with
the face initially turning red then white as blood pressure falls; delirium including acting out inner visions and
paranoid ideation; abnormal muscle movements including jerks and contortions and finally unconsciousness.
Symptom onset is usually less than an hour and can continue for as long as two days.
The Independent Messenger published in Worcester, Massachusetts reported on May 27th 1831 that
Some [Church members] lie in trances a day or two and visit the unknown regions in the meantime;
some are taken with a fit of terrible shaking which they say is the power of the Holy Ghost.50

In an early June 1831 Kirtland sacrament meeting, Joseph Smith alluded to possible mass visions and outright
promised Lyman Wight that he would see Christ that day. Bushman explains what happened next:
Wight turned stiff and white, exclaiming that he had indeed viewed the Savior… Joseph himself said, “I
now see God, and Jesus Christ”… Then Harvey Whitlock … turn as black as Lyman was white… his fingers
were set like claws. He went around the room and showed his hands and tried to speak, his eyes were
the shape of ovals “O’s”… [Then] Leman Copley, who weighed over two hundred pounds, somersaulted
in the air and fell on his back over a bench… [Similar behavior was manifested by] people all day and the
greater part of the night.51

In the Independent Gazetter published in Taunton, Massachusetts on January 11, 1833 it was reported that “in
a few hours at a single meeting” there would be

… shoutings, wailing, fallings, contortions, trances, visions, speaking in unknown tongues and

John W. Gunnison who interviewed Church elders present during the 1836 Kirtland Pentecost reported that
wine was administered …
… that had been consecrated, and declared by the Prophet to be harmless and not intoxicating. This…
produced unheard of effects, if we may credit the witnesses of these proceedings. Visions, tongues,
trances, wallowings on the ground, shoutings, weeping, and laughing, the outpouring of prophecies…
these, and other fantastic things, were among ‘the signs following’ at Kirtland.’53

Joseph Smith’s standard response was to attribute foul manifestations to the adversary while the heavenly
manifestations were attributed to God. But a more reasonable explanation may be that the visionary effects
of Datura plant are frequently accompanied by rather unnerving physical and psychological side effects.
Some witnesses of these events came to the conclusion that the sacrament had been laced with a drug. On
January 6, 1831, a letter to the editor in the Palmyra Reflector 54 accused Joseph Smith of legerdemain.
Legerdemain means the practice of using “psychology, misdirection and natural choreography in
accomplishing a magical effect.”55 In other words, Joseph Smith was being accused of using the sacrament as
misdirection for the surreptitious administration of a visionary substance. In 1843, Henry Caswell wrote of “a
pretended sacrament” associated with manifestations of power in early LDS meetings.56
After witnessing several sacrament meetings in Kirtland Ohio, Jesse Moss “became fully satisfied the wine was
medicated” and one night attempted to steal a bottle but was caught. Immediately after his attempt was
discovered, Moss made a public statement about how with drugged wine “angels could be manufactured &
strange wonders made to appear in the night”.57
A member of the Church by the last name of McWhithey was reportedly present during the 1836 Kirtland
temple dedication week. Obviously disgruntled, McWhitney complained that the wine consumed was actually
“mixed liquor” and that “the Mormon leaders intended to get the audience under [its] influence” so that
visions experienced were believed to be of “the Lord’s doings.”58
The connection of wine with fits of psychotic thinking and strange physical manifestations attending heavenly
visions and spiritual raptures argues strongly in favor of the covert inclusion of the visionary Datura plant in
the sacramental meal and anointing oil administered by Joseph Smith.
Amanita Muscaria Mushroom
What about Joseph Smith’s own use of entheogens? As noted, the psychotic thinking and peculiar physical
manifestations attending Joseph’s first vision are compatible with Datura plant ingestion. But another
entheogen most likely was the intoxicant involved.
The Amanita muscaria mushroom may be one of man’s oldest entheogens. According to Dan Merker, an
academic with a background in religious history, an entheogenic laced sacrament existed in a Judaeo-Christian
context.59 Clark Heinrich suggests there is evidence to believe the Amanita muscaria mushroom may have
played a role, along with ergot fungus related to LSD, in occasioning the visions reported by Old Testament
prophets as well as being employed in some early Christian Eucharist celebrations. 60 However, these
entheogens were not administered openly, but covertly within a more benign substance such as wine and

anointing oil. To maintain secrecy, descriptions of Amanita muscaria mushroom use were cloaked in allegory
and metaphor. (Listen to Clark Heinrich discuss the Amanita Mushroom.)
The Amanita muscaria mushroom, because of its changing form; its symbiotic relationship with pines, oaks
and birch trees; and its profound visionary effect makes itself amenable to mystical personification and simile.
A few examples of the Amanita Muscaria mushroom in various stages of life underneath its host trees are
shown above. In its newborn state, it takes on the appearance of a small dazzling white stone or particle; then
a woolly lamb, a constellation of sun, moon and stars, a brilliantly colored ground fruit; a winged bird adorned
with a string of pearls around its neck; a sun disk radiating light in all directions; a gold plate upon which is
found strange writing and a serpent hanging on a pole. According to those who have consumed this fruit, the
visionary state it produces occasions an endowment of divine knowledge and celestial love.
This 13th century Christian fresco from France shows an Amanita muscaria mushroom as the tree of
knowledge with Adam on the left and Eve on the right. Notice the tree’s umbrella shaped branches bearing
white particles analogous to the veil remnants on the caps of three Amanita muscaria mushrooms shown to
its right. Also, in the Christian fresco, the gold plates covering Adam and Eve’s nakedness match the golden
color of an aged Amanita muscaria mushroom. Finally, the snake hanging on a pole in the Christian fresco
corresponds to a dying Amanita muscaria mushroom that also has an appearance of a snake hanging on a
What is remarkable about this early Christian pictographic simile of the Amanita muscaria mushroom is its
resemblance to the dreams of Joseph Smith Sr. and the early visionary experiences of Joseph Smith Jr. In 1802,
Joseph Sr. gathered and crystallized more than $3000 worth of ginseng to sell in China. 61 Ginseng, although
not a major entheogen, was “attributed with secret and magical powers”.62 The ability to crystallize ginseng
shows that Joseph Sr. was able to work with psychoactive material, changing it into a stable, storable form
that could be administered at a later time.
In 1811, Joseph Sr. reportedly had two dreams that are very suggestive of the Amanita muscaria mushroom.
In the first dream, a spirit led Joseph Sr. to a box on the ground containing an entheogenic material. Of the
box, the spirit said
the contents of which, if you eat thereof, will make you wise, and give unto you wisdom and

In the next dream, Joseph Sr. was led to a tree whose “branches spread themselves somewhat like an
umbrella” and released “particles … of dazzling whiteness” which fell to the ground. When he partook of fruit
lying on the ground, he experienced something “delicious beyond description”. Then Joseph Sr. with his family
“got down upon [their] knees, and scooped [the fruit] up, eating it by double handfuls”.64
In 1830, Joseph Smith Jr. published his own version of his father’s entheogen related dreams. In an early
chapter in the Book of Mormon those who held onto the rod of iron ultimately “fell down and partook of the
fruit of the tree” which represented the love of God. It is not a far stretch to think that a single entheogen is
being described in these three related dreams.
The points where the Smith dreams appear to represent the Amanita Muscaria mushroom are …
1. the umbrella shape of the tree branches,
2. the brilliant white particles on the branches, appearing to fall to the ground arguably appearing
as small brilliant white stones

3. the fruit that must be gathered from the ground, not plucked from the branches of the tree as
would be expected
4. fruit that can either be eaten fresh or dried and stored for later consumption
5. magical fruit able to occasion visions and raptures bestowing divine wisdom and heavenly love.
The Amanita muscaria mushroom not only fits the images depicted in the Smith dreams, it also has the
capacity to reproduce the early visionary experiences reported by Joseph Smith. The 1832 account of the first
vision, written 12 years from when it reportedly occurred, had undoubtedly already undergone significant
revision. The core event was arguably an experience of physical heaviness, visual darkness, an awe-inspiring
light from above, a voice out of heaven, an experience with the unfathomable Godhead and feelings of
unspeakable joy.65
Contemporary visionary experience occasioned by entheogens show remarkable similarity to that of Joseph
Smith. For instance, a few years ago, after ingesting the Amanita Muscaria mushroom in the context of a
Christian sacramental meal, Clark Heinrich reports a Joseph Smith-like first vision. Heinrich writes
I felt like I weighed thousands of pounds and could no longer sit up … in the midst of a great darkness
and a great silence, the heavens opened above my head. In an instant I was flooded with light from
above, light of the utmost whiteness and splendor that quickly dissolved everything in its glory. The bliss
I had experienced prior to this new revelation now paled to insignificance in an immensity of light that
was also the purest love. As the truth of the situation dawned on me the word “FATHER” resounded in
this heaven of light and I was taken up and absorbed by the unspeakable Godhead.

The similarity of Heinrich’s vision to that of Joseph Smith’s is remarkable including immobility, darkness, light
appearing from above, a voice out of heaven, an experience with the Godhead and the feeling of indescribable
joy. James Arthur reports that the Amanita muscaria “mushroom is also a symbiotic with the Birch tree, the
trees which were in the Sacred Grove”.66
On another occasion in which Amanita Muscaria mushroom was ingested in a sacramental setting, Heinrich
reported an experience reminiscent of the February 16, 1832 joint vision of Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon.
This singular vision was manifested as they read from the Book of John. Similarly, Heinrich and a friend partook
of the sacred Amanita muscaria sacrament, opened the Bible to the Book of John and reported having a
singular spiritual experience.
I picked up a Bible from the bookshelf, opened to the Book of John, and started reading aloud. What I had
before considered ridiculously partisan prose and poetry (fiction really) was now revealed in a whole new
light. It became for us an [Amanita muscaria] initiation document, speaking the living truth directly to us
through the mists of the centuries, uncovering layer after layer of meaning artfully hidden in the text. We
understood it all; all the references, all the metaphors, all the hidden wisdom… It was as though God had
manifested from the book and was addressing us directly. And we couldn’t have been happier.67
The Amanita muscaria mushroom may also have played a role in Joseph’s account of the Book of Mormon’s
origin. This sacred mushroom appears in the autumn of each year coinciding with Joseph’s annual visits to the
Hill Cumorah. Importantly, Joseph told his wife and his mother that he hid the gold plates in an oak and birch
tree. Interestingly, Amanita muscaria mushroom grows in symbiotic relationship with both trees. The sacred
mushroom is born underneath a tree as a small “pure brilliant white stone”68 which is then transformed into a
woolly lamb, then a brilliant red fruit; a constellation of sun, moon and stars and finally a gold plate upon
which appears to be written strange hieroglyphs. On the left is a freshly picked shiny gold Amanita muscaria

mushroom in its potent entheogenic form. The photo on the right is a collection of dried gold Amanita
muscaria mushrooms that retain their entheogenic potency for up to a year.69

A comparison of a photo of an Amanita Muscaria mushroom on the left with hieroglyphics from an Egyptian manuscript
shows remarkable similarity. Amanita muscaria may also have occasioned Joseph’s interest in translating. In a recent
study conducted in Britain, ingestion of Amanita Muscaria mushroom stirred a member of the test group to
spontaneously translate an unknown language.

It also appears that Joseph may have been inebriated while composing the Book of Mormon. Martin Harris
told A.C. Russell in 1834 that Joseph Smith was frequently intoxicated while translating. 70 It is possible that
Joseph was not intoxicated as much with wine as with Amanita Muscaria mushroom.
In addition to replicating aspects of Joseph Smith’s visions and providing an allegorical story of gold plates
upon which was written reformed Egyptian, a visionary mushroom is able to provoke Joseph Smith-like
millennial zeal. In a 1962 experiment, visionary mushrooms were served to fifteen volunteers. As the
entheogen began to take effect, one volunteer declared that he had been chosen by God “to announce to the
world the dawning of the Messianic Age, a millennium of universal peace”.71
Moreover, Amanita Muscaria is known to increase physical strength, aggressiveness and confidence to the
point of grandiose behavior all defining characteristics of Joseph Smith’s personality.

There may also be a connection between the Amanita Muscaria mushroom, alchemical pictographic riddles
and an amulet gifted by Joseph Smith to his most mystical plural wife, Eliza R. Snow.72 While the rational for
suggesting a connection between the Amanita muscari mushroom and Joseph Smith’s amulet is rather

complex, it may be worth introducing the subject, which can be investigated further on if one is interested.
Lance Owens has demonstrated a connection between Joseph Smith and hermetic traditions including
alchemy.73 Alchemists were absorbed in pursuing prima materia, a single substance that occasioned a direct
and personal experience of illumination.74 Clark Heinrich has shown that the most likely candidate for the
alchemical entheogen is the Amanita muscaria mushroom.75 To avoid persecution, Heinrich explains that
alchemists kept the identity of Amanita muscaria mushroom secret by creating pictographic riddles.

This 16th century alchemical pictographic76 appears to be a personification of the Amanita muscaria
mushroom,77 Shown in the photos on the right are various stages of Amanita muscaria mushroom growth
represented by the elements of the alchemical pictograph. Notice the figure’s male and female heads
representing the sun and moon phase of Amanita muscaria growth; the rays of red spiritual light emanating

from the male head and the white spiritual light emanating from the female head represent the changing
colors of the underside of the sacred mushroom cap; the philosopher’s stone held in the left hand
representing the brilliant white stage of early Amanita muscaria growth; the red and white wings representing
the halved mushroom cap; the red and gold edged disk held in the figures right hand representing the red and
gold fluted edges of a maturing upturned mushroom cap and finally the figure standing on a hill with pines to
the left and the birches to the right representing the symbiotic relationship between those trees and the
Amanita muscaria mushroom.

Another remarkable feature of the Amanita muscaria mushroom is the veil remnant found on the stem just
underneath the cap. The veil’s lower fringe appears to be trimmed with red-gold spheres dangling by ropes.
This feature of the Amanita muscaria mushroom appears to be represented on the figures belt adorned with
red-gold orbs. Further, there is a striking similarity between the personification of the Amanita muscaria veil
on the figure’s belt and the amulet belonging to Joseph Smith.

Another feature of the Amanita muscaria mushroom is the red and gold fluted edge of the mushrooms
upturned cap. This appears to be represented in the red and gold fluted edge of the pictographic disk and on
the outer edge of the Joseph Smith amulet. Other symbols on Joseph’s amulet such as the compass and
square, the down pointing arrows, the five orbs, and the half circles can be found on similar alchemical
pictographs representing the Amanita muscaria mushroom.
In summary, the visionary Amanita muscaria mushroom appears as a meaningful thread in the Smith’s
dreams, in Joseph Smith Junior’s first vision, in the account of Joseph finding the Book of Mormon, in the Book

of Mormon’s translation, in the joint vision with Sidney Ridgon, in Joseph’s strong and extravagant personality
and in an alchemical amulet gifted to Eliza R. Snow.
Another entheogen that can occasion experience which duplicates a portion of the Book of Mormon narrative,
is the Peyote Cactus. At the time of his death, Joseph Smith possessed a seer stone shaped in the likeness of a
visionary peyote button.

D. Michael Quinn writes that Joseph Smith found this stone, possibly in its rough unshaped form, along the
Mississippi River’s shore between 1839 and 1844. After Joseph’s death, the stone was kept by Emma Smith
and inherited by her second husband, Lewis Bidamon. It eventually made its way to the Wilford Wood
Museum in Woods Cross, Utah. Quinn describes the stone as the size of a U.S. quarter dollar and “is the most
intricate of those attributed to Smith. It has a hole through the center surrounded by eight smaller
indentations, with tooled ridges around the edge”.78
Gary R. Varner writes in Menhirs, Domen and Circles of Stone: The Folklore and Magic of Sacred Stones
[Published 2004, Algora Publishing] in his introduction and on pages 14 and 15 that
Humans since the dawn of civilization have used stone to represent the holy, both by fashioning sacred
symbols for themselves and by granting recognition to certain sites occurring naturally…
Ethnographic evidence indicates that Comanche shamans used stones at least into the 1970’s, if not
later, in healing rituals. Ethologist David E. Jones wrote that a medicine woman he had studies “applied
the stone peyote drum ‘bosses’ to the patient’s face so that, through her powers, the positive qualities
of these stones - firmness and stability - could be injected into the patient’s contorted face to heal him.”
[Jones, David E. Sanapia: Comanche Medicine Woman. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston Case
Studies in Cultural Anthropology, 1972, 96]
Small stones with naturally occurring holes in them have been especially prized for their purported
magical properties and in many cases, they were believed to be linked directly to the Goddess. In North
Carolina, at least through the 1920s … and Northumberland up to the early 20th century … [and] in the

The peyote cactus resembles a pie cut in wedges, tufts of hair growing from each wedge and a central pinkish
flower. To turn the Peyote cactus into a visionary sacrament, the hair tuffs of each pie shaped section are
removed, the central flower is cored out and the tough bark is peeled off.79

Shown above is a series of stills from a video80 produced by a modern well educated Huichol Indian. The
scenes depict a Shaman ingesting a prepared Peyote button and entering a visionary world. The first two
images are of the shaman ritually contemplating the sacramental meal. Note the reflection of the peyote in
the shaman’s eye. This image has round edges, depressions where the tufts of hair were removed and a hole
where the central flower was cored out. The next image is a depiction of the visionary transformation of the
ingested peyote cactus demonstrated by its vivid colors and its scalloped edges radiating spiritual light,
illuminating the spiritual world. The next photo shows a spirit or God seen in vision or perhaps the shaman in
out-of-body flight.

Above is shown a comparison between the Huichol Indian representation of the visionary peyote cactus
button and Joseph Smith’s most intricate seer stone. There is a central hole allowing light to shine through in
both the peyote cactus and the seer stone.

Surrounding the central hole on both the cactus and stone are eight circular depressions with shadows.

And finally, the edges of the visionary cactus and stone are both scalloped suggesting its entheogenic property
of illuminating the spiritual world.
Why would Joseph Smith have a visionary peyote stone? What could peyote have to do with Joseph’s
visionary experience? The answer may be that peyote put Joseph Smith in contact with ancient Amerindian
cultures gifting him with the material that was later incorporated into the Book of Mormon. The experience
occasioned by mescaline, the psychoactive component of peyote, in a modern user replicates an account of
Joseph Smith’s boyhood visionary knowledge of the ancient Amerindian. Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack noted
that even before receiving the gold plates, her son was gifted with an extensive knowledge of the inhabitants
of ancient America.
During our evening conversations, Joseph would … describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent,
their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings with
every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much
ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.81

A cactus like Peyote that contains mescaline could have occasioned direct experience with ancient Amerindian
Earl Crockett, a successful businessman and amateur ethnobotonist, gave an account that replicates Joseph
Smith’s recitals of ancient Amerindian culture. In a 2005 report, Crockett indicated that sometime earlier he
had taken mescaline while sitting near a cave used by a mysterious Baja California Indian tribe that vanished
long ago. After ingesting the cactus, Crockett explains
I’m sitting there for however, who knows long, eyes open and I look up above the canyon wall and
there’s Venus. And this light came down from Venus and I went back up it and was gone. I learned who
they were, how they dressed, how they got there, on and on and on and on and on.82

Interestingly, Joseph Smith’s grandson, Frederick M. Smith, president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in Amerindian peyote ceremonies. Shelby M. Barnes reports that
President Smith experimented with peyote as early as 1913 and notes that President Smith
… widely used [peyote] … [opening his mind] to the mysteries of human ecstasy as an essential element
of religion… He was convinced that every human being had the potential to expand the limits of his or
her mind.”83

Like his great grandfather, Joseph Smith Junior, President Frederick M. Smith felt that even the least Saint
should have access to the heavenly realms. In 1919, President Smith encouraged others in the RLDS Church to
use peyote in a controlled manner84 and defended peyote ceremonies from Federal intrusion.

Weaknesses of the Entheogenic Theory of Mormon Origins
It is theorized that psychedelics substances disinhebit unconscious material from reaching conscious
awareness. Jung suggested that unconscious material, especially material in the collective unconscious is
represented by myth and symbols. It is possible that Joseph Smith’s genetic heritage combined with severel
psychological and physical trauma when seven years old made material in Joseph Smith’s unconscious easily
“bleed” into the conscious during periods of meditation or stress. In this case, there is a low threshold for the
release of endogenous psychedelics such as DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) that my have facilitated visionary
experiences. In this case, exogenous psychedelics would not have been necessary. Additionally, it is possible
that Joseph Smith selected men such as himself who had low thresholds for release of DMT. This seeker
psyche was expunged from the church because of their destabilizing influence as suggested by Richard
Bushman. In this case, the Kirkland excesses highly suggestive of exogenous psychedelics were unauthorized
by Joseph Smith and the visions associated with the Kirtland temple were the result of the seeker psyche
rather than psychedelics.
Even if the entheogenic theory of Mormon origins is incorrect, there is little doubt that psychedelics can
facilitate visionary experiences remarkably similar if not indistinguishable from those experienced by Joseph
Smith and early Mormon converts. If the final pathway for this visions is a psychedelic substance, whether
externally administered or internally released, should seekers without a genetic disposition, be discouraged
from taking psychedelics in a set and setting that is both suitable and safe? The primary transcendent
experience, for some, is undoubtedly a boon, relieving depression and existential anxieties.
As Richard Bushman noted, it was Joseph Smith himself that connected early Mormon converts to heavenly
visions and spiritual raptures by a power that he, himself possessed.85 It is to the mystery of Joseph Smith’s
spiritual power that this presentation has addressed itself. This presentation has theorized that the main
origin and ongoing wellspring of Joseph’s spiritual power was his skilled utilization of the visionary Datura
plant, the sacred Amanita muscaria mushroom and the revered peyote cactus. These natural chemical
disinhibited the unconscious mind and by excluding light, revelations of mythic quality were generated. In the
administration of these entheogens, it is hypothesized that Joseph Smith (using ritual i.e. set, setting,
substance, support) was able to gift his followers with access to God and spiritual dimensions without the
years of fasting, isolation, and self-torture employed by other mystic and spiritual leaders.
If the entheogen theory of the rise of Mormonism proves to be correct, it is probable that if Joseph Smith had
lived to complete the Nauvoo temple, the visionary experiences surrounding its dedication would have
eclipsed those of the Kirtland Pentecost in both glory and power. Further, there is reason to conjecture that if
Joseph Smith had lived to be 85 as he speculated he might,86 members would not have been asking in 1864
“why it is that we do not see more angels, have more visions, that we do not see greater and more
manifestations of power [as did the first converts and leadership]?”
The fact that members of the LDS Church must look backward to the early years of the “restoration” suggests
that Mormon Church had lost its mystical core early in its history. David Steindl-Rast addressed the question of
the mystic in organized religion whe he writes:
Mysticism has been democratized in our day. Not so long ago, “real” mystics were those who had visions,
levitations, and bilocations and, most important, were those who had lived in the past; any contemporary
mystic was surely a fake (if not a witch). Today, we realize that extraordinary mystical phenomena have little
to do with the essence of mysticism. (Of course, genuine mystics had told us this all along; we just wouldn’t

listen.) We’ve come to understand mysticism as the experience of communion with Ultimate Reality (i.e., with
“God,” if you feel comfortable with this time-honored, but also time-distorted term).
Many of us experience a sense of communion with Ultimate Reality once in a while. In our best, most alive
moments, we feel somehow one with that fundamental whatever-it-is that keeps us all going. Even
psychological research suggests that the experience of communion with Ultimate Reality is nearly universal
among humans. So we find ourselves officially recognized as bona fide mystics. Some of us even sense the
challenge to translate the bliss of universal communion into the nitty-gritty of human community in daily
living. That’s certainly a step forward.
Like every step forward in life, however, the discovery of mysticism as everyone’s inalienable right brings with
it a puzzling tension. Those who feel this tension most keenly are people who have long been members of an
established religion, with its doctrines, ethical precepts, and rites. They may discover the mystical reality inside
the religious establishment or outside of it: either in church or on a mountaintop, while listening to Bach’s BMinor Mass, or while watching a sunset. In any case, but especially out in nature, those who taste mystical
ecstasy may begin to sense a discrepancy between this undeniably religious experience and the forms that
normally pass as religious. If the religious pursuit is essentially the human quest for meaning, then these most
meaningful moments of human existence must certainly be called “religious.” They are, in fact, quickly
recognized as the very heart of religion, especially by people who have the good fortune of feeling at home in
a religious tradition. And yet, the body of religion doesn’t always accept its heart. This can happen in any
religious tradition, Eastern or Western. To the establishment, after all, mysticism is suspect. The established
religion asks: Why is there a need for absorption in the Cloud of Unknowing when we have spelled out
everything so clearly? And isn’t that emphasis on personal experience a bit egocentric? Who can be sure that
people standing on their own feet won’t go their own way? These suspicions gave rise to the famous saying
that “myst-i-cism begins with mist, puts the I in the center, and ends in schism.” …
The question we need to tackle is this: How does one get from mystic experience to an established religion?
My one-word answer is: inevitably. What makes the process inevitable is that we do with our mystical
experience what we do with every experience, that is, we try to understand it; we opt for or against it; we
express our feelings with regard to it. Do this with your mystical experience and you have all the makings of a
religion. This can be shown. 87
If the entheogen theory of the rise of Mormonism proves to be correct, it is probable that if Joseph Smith had
lived to complete the Nauvoo temple, the visionary experiences surrounding its dedication would have
eclipsed those of the Kirtland Pentecost in both glory and power. Further, there is reason to conjecture that if
Joseph Smith had lived to be 85 as he speculated he might,86 members would not have been asking in 1864
“why it is that we do not see more angels, have more visions, that we do not see greater and more
manifestations of power [as did the first converts and leadership]?”

Psychedelics & the Transcendent Experience
Psychedelic Safety

James Arthur & Alex Andoven. The Golden Mushroom Plates of Mormonism: Did Joseph Smith, the Founder of
the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Religion, Consume Psychedelic Fungi? Unpublished. A selection from the
unfinished chapter titled “The Host”. Found at
Many organisms are parasitic but others, which are associated with a host life form, are not. They are
Symbiotic life forms, living in harmony with another life form and thriving off of its energy and substance while
also feeding the other with its own energy and substance. Mushrooms do this very thing, and the Amanita is
one of the most famous for it. The mushroom grows in a relationship with coniferous trees (Pine, Spruce,
Cedar etc.) because the mushroom is only the fruit of a bigger organism, which actually lives underground.
This is the mushroom’s main body, mycelium, an organism that is symbiotic with the tree because it is
attached to the tree’s root system and thrives off of the energy and substance of the tree, from its roots. The
mycelium is the host for the tree and the tree is the host for the mycelium, and thus the mushroom, and these
hosts live in a Mycorhizzal Symbiotic relationships with each other. So the mushroom is a host in the botanical,
ethnobotanical, esoteric, magickal, occultic, alchemical senses of the word. The mushroom can also be seen,
by a visionary imbiber, as a host for a state of mind, the host to a party in an extra dimensional realm, the host
for a visit to another state of consciousness. The lord of hosts in this regard can also be interpreted to mean;
of all the hosts that the planet has to offer, in this sense, Peyote, Psilocybe (another species of entheogenic
mushrooms), Marijuana, Opium Poppies, Coca leaves etc. The Lord of all hosts is the Amanita muscaria.
Certainly it has more religious connections than any other specific entheogen. Its appearance, striking color
and majesty (Kings crowns, robes, and scepters are designed after its likeness) make it a brilliant and obvious
living presence on our planet. The Lord of Hosts is a perfect euphemism for the mushroom and its esoteric
interpretation, in this sense, expounds on the understanding of the meaning of the religion, as a good, deeper,
secret revelation should. Of course, as would be expected, another meaning for the term host is the
sacramental wafer, or consecrated bread, which is of course the body of jesus, the mushroom, the hidden
manna, the host which lives under the Pine tree (‘Christmas tree’) it’s host. It bears mentioning here again that
the mushroom is also a symbiotic with the Birch tree, the trees which were in the Sacred Grove.
Delusions of Grandeur
It is no secret that Joseph Smith believed himself to be a messianic figure, the one man capable of ushering in
the millinial reign of Jesus Christ. Where could this distortion of reality originated? One possiblility is the use of
One of the major negative side effect of psychedelic experimentation is delusional ideation, and one of the
most common pathologies associated with frequent high-dose psychedelic experimentation is persistent
recurring delusions of grandeur. Delusional ideation within the psychedelic state is to be expected; but when
delusional ideations cross the boundary from dream-state into waking state, this is where the trouble begins…
The first thing to keep in mind is that persistent recurring delusions of grandeur (PRDoG) don’t typically take
hold after a single isolated psychedelic voyage. Though one might run up against some savory delusional,
messianic, or paranoid ideation in a single trip, the content derived from a single psychedelic session is often
easily forgotten, dismissed, or toyed with for a while before it simply fades away. The key patterns we are
looking for when approaching persistent delusions of grandeur are 1) high dose ranges, 2) high frequency of
use, 3) ingestion contexts which isolate the user from external stimulus, and 4) ingestion contexts that revolve
around repetitive rituals, themes, or patterns. (James Kent, Psychedelic Information Theory: Chapter 20:
Messianic Ideation & Delusions of Grandeur.



Bushman, R. L. (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 113. See page 147
where it read, “In one affidavit, the Palmyra neighbors observed that “all with whom we were acquainted,
that have embraced Mormonism from this neighborhood, we are compelled to say, were very visionary, and
most of them destitute of moral character.”

Except in the faction of the Church, including many of the Joseph Smith family that followed James Strang.


In 1864, Apostle George A. Smith observed: The question has often arisen among us, why it is that we do not
see more angels, have more visions, that we do not see greater and more manifestations of power.” George
Albert Smith. 1864. See: Other examples of
aberrational behavior are discussed later in the presentation See also Harold Bloom, “If there is any spiritual
continuity between [Joseph Smith] and Gordon B. Hinkley, I am unable to see it. No disrespect is intended by
that observation.” Bloom, H. (2007). Perspectivism and Joseph Smith. Sunstone Magazine, Issue 145, p. 18-19.

Bushman, R. L. (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. P. 560. See also Jan
Shipps who wrote, “The mystery of Mormonism cannot be solved until we solve the mystery of Joseph Smith


Robert C. Fuller. Stairways to Heaven: Drugs in American Religious History. Boulder, Colo.: Westview. 2000.
as quoted in Stephen Hoeller, Misca-06



Smith, H. (2003). Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Relligious Significance of Entheogenic Plans and
Chemicals. Boulder Colorado: Sentient Publications. P. 52

Smith, H. (2000). Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plans and
Chemicals. Boulder, Colorado: Sentient Publications. p. 10-11

Smith, H. (2000). Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion No, 3 in the Entheogen
Project Series. San Francisco, CA.

Michael S. Hoffman. Entheogenic Theory of Religion and Ego Death. September 24, 2006 Salvia Divinorum
Magazine, Issue 4.)

Hofmann, Schultes, & Ratsch 1992


Heinrich 1994


Ruck, Staples, & Heinrich 2001


ÅKE HULTKRANZ is Professor Emiritus of Comparative Religion at the University of Stockholm and
recognized as a world authority on Native American religions and shamanism. His is the author of nearly
C. Jess Groessbeck.

Hultkrantz, A. (1967). The Religions of the American Indians. Berkeley, Callifornia: University of California
Press. P. 153

Michael S. Hoffman. Entheogenic Theory of Religion and Ego Death. September 24, 2006 Salvia Divinorum
Magazine, Issue 4.

C. Jess Groesbeck. The Shaman’s Visions. Sunstone Symposium 1985; Joseph Smith And The Translation Of
The Book Of Mormon, A Huichol Indian Parallel Sustone Symposium 1990. Joseph Smith and the Shaman’s
Vision: A Forgotten Paradigm for the Life of the Mormon Prophet. Sunstone Symposium 2005

Datura:; Amanita Muscaria: Heinrich, C. (2002). Magic Mushrooms in Religion and
Alchemy. Rochester, New York: Park Street Press. P. 209-212.

Bushman, R. L. (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. P. 107, 131


Heinrich, C. (2002). Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy. Rochester, New York: Park Street Press.


Lance Owens 1994a. Owens explains “Walter was a distant cousin of Smith’s future wife and a member of
the circle associated with Smith’s early treasure quests. By contemporary reports he was not only a physician,
but a magician and mesmerist who had traveled extensively in Europe to obtain “profound learning”-probably including knowledge of alchemy, Paracelcian medicine, and hermetic lore.”

Petersen, L. (1975). Hearts Made Glad: The Charges of Intemperance Against Joseph Smith the Mormon
Prophet. Salt Lake City, Utah: p. 90. It is likely that early converts were totally unaware of the tainted wine,
bread and anointing oil. In 1855, Sir Joseph Hooker reported that thieves would haunt way stations where a
traveler might rest and place “pounded or whole Datura seeds into his food, producing a twenty-hours
intoxication, during which he is robbed”

End of the quote: “beds … brother Newel Knight, who
had to be placed on a bed, being unable to help himself … all of a sudden … saw the heaven opened, and
beheld the Lord Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high… When their bodily strength was

restored to these brethren, they … rehearsed the glorious things which they had seen and felt, whilst they
were yet in the spirit”

Kirtland High Council Minutes (December 1832–November 1837). P. 16-17. Selected Collections, 1:19 //
New Mormon Studies CD-ROM. Original, Church Archives, MS 3432. Found at LDS History of the Church, Vol I. p. 283. See also

Pendell, D. (2005). PharmakoGnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path. San Francisco, California: Mercury
House. P. 263

JS, Journal, Jan. 21, 1836, in PJS, 2:157-58; CR Cowdery, “Sketch Book,” 419 (Jan 21, 1836Bushman, R. L.
(2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. P. 312,313 ““… .Edward Partridge wrote
that “a number saw visions & others were blessed with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The vision of heaven
was opened to these also, some of them saw the face of the Savior, and others were ministered unto by holy

Millennial Star 15:726-728. See also Lamar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad, Salt Lake City Utah 1975, p. 124125. See also

“Diary of Charles L. Walker,” 1855-1902, excerpts typed, 1969, p.35. Cited (pages 479 - 481)

History of the Church 2:434-435. See also Notes and Comments, BYU Studies, vol. 15 (1974-1975), Number 4
- Summer 1975 551.) D&C 110.

who helped with the Times and Seasons


Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal history of the Editor,” The Return, I (June, 1889), 88-91. As found in
Lamar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad, Salt Lake City Utah 1975, p. 139. Also found at
38 Hearts

Made Glad, Salt Lake City Utah 1975, p. 79


J. J. Moss letter to J. T. Cobb dated Dec. 17, 1878. Found at

George Albert Smith. 1864. See: Other
examples of aberrational behavior are discussed later in the presentation See also Harold Bloom, “If there is
any spiritual continuity between [Joseph Smith] and Gordon B. Hinkley, I am unable to see it. No disrespect is
intended by that observation.” Bloom, H. (2007). Perspectivism and Joseph Smith. Sunstone Magazine, Issue
145, p. 18-19.

Found in Lamar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad, Salt Lake City Utah 1975, p. 81


Bushman, R. L. (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 151.

43 History

of the Church. IV (April 1, 1842), 580. See George A. Smith’s account of Joseph Smith description:
George Albert Smith. 1864. See:

George Albert Smith. 1864. See: Other
examples of aberrational behavior are discussed later in the presentation See also Harold Bloom, “If there is
any spiritual continuity between [Joseph Smith] and Gordon B. Hinkley, I am unable to see it. No disrespect is
intended by that observation.” Bloom, H. (2007). Perspectivism and Joseph Smith. Sunstone Magazine, Issue
145, p. 18-19.

Found in Lamar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad, Salt Lake City Utah 1975, p. 81


Bushman, R. L. (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 151.

47 History

of the Church. IV (April 1, 1842), 580. See George A. Smith’s account of Joseph Smith description:
George Albert Smith. 1864. See:

Instructions given by Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, Illinois, February 9, 1843. History of the Church 5:267.


Petersen, L. (1975). Hearts Made Glad: The Charges of Intemperance Against Joseph Smith the Mormon
Prophet. Salt Lake City, Utah: p. 81.

Bushman, R. L. (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. P. 156-157


Leut. J.W. Gunnison: The Mormons, or, Latter-Day Saints (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Col.: 1852, 107 as
found in Lamar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad, Salt Lake City Utah 1975, p. 133.

J. J. Moss to James T. Cobb, Dec. 17, 1878, original in A. T. Schroeder Collection, Wisconsin State Historical
Society). Found at

Demming, Naked Truths (April, 1888), pp. 2-3. As found in Lamar Petersen, Hearts Made Glad, Salt Lake City
Utah 1975, p. 135.

Merkur, D. (2000). The Mystery of Manna: The Psychedelic Sacrament of the Bible. Rochester, Vermont: Park
Street Press.

Clark Heinrich. Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy. Park Street Press, Rochester Vermont 2002. See

Richard Bushman, 2005a. p. 18.


Richard Evans Schultes, A. H. a. C. R. (2001). Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic
Powers. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors. Lamoni, Iowa: The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1912, reprinted 1969. P. 57-58. Photo reprint available at Utah Light House
Ministries, Salt Lake City. Online version at See also Vogel,
D. (2004). Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. p. 15-19. n 1811,
64 Biographical

Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors. Lamoni, Iowa: The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1912, reprinted 1969. P. 57-58. Photo reprint available at Utah Light House
Ministries, Salt Lake City. Online version at See also Vogel,
D. (2004). Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. p. 15-19. n 1811

On this later point, I would recommend reviewing Thomas Alexander’s 1980 and my 2003 Sunstone
presentation to understand why Joseph Smith would have experienced God as a trinity of Father, Son and Holy
Ghost. If this last point is correct, Joseph Smith’s first vision was replicated in the 1977 experience of Clark
Heinrich. Thomas G. Alexander, Chairman Honors Department BYU. The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine:
From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology. Sunstone, July-August 1980.

Andoven, James Arthur & Alex. The Golden Mushroom Plates of Mormonism: Did Joseph Smith, the
Founder of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Religion, Consume Psychedelic Fungi? Unpublished. Unfinished
chapter “The Host”. Copy published Jul 3, 2005 by James Arthur found at

Clark Heinrich. Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy. Park Street Press, Rochester Vermont 2002


Clark Heinrich. Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy. Park Street Press, Rochester Vermont 2002. p.

Additionally the psychedelic component of Amanita Muscaria can be extract by soaking it in water, which
turns a faint wine color from rosy red to faintly golden .

Church History Vol II Found at


Smith, H. (2000). Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plans and
Chemicals. Boulder, Colorado: Sentient Publications.101 – 103.

Quinn, D. M. (1998). Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books.
Figure 40.

Lance S. Owens, Joseph Smith and Kabbala: The Occult Connection, Dialogue a Journal of Mormon Thought.
P. 117-194.

Lance S. Owens, Joseph Smith and Kabbala: The Occult Connection, Dialogue a Journal of Mormon Thought.
P. 117-194.

Richard Evans Schultes, A. H. a. C. R. (2001). Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic
Powers. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.


Heinrich, C. (2002). Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy. Rochester, New York: Park Street Press.p.

D. Michael Quinn. 1998a p. 246-247


Dale Pendell, 2005b:338


Smith, L. M. (1853). Biographical Sketches of Jsoeph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for many
Generations. Liverpool, England: S.W. Richards. P. 85.

Shelby M. Barnes, “The Higher Powers: Fred M. Smith and the Peyote Ceremonies,” Dialogue: A Journal of
Mormon Thought, Vol. 28, No. 4, Winter 1995, p. 9l-99

Frederick Madison Smith, “Preparation,” Saints Herald, 19 Aug. 1914, 783-85. See

Bushman, R. L. (2005). Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. P. 560. See also Jan
Shipps who wrote, “The mystery of Mormonism cannot be solved until we solve the mystery of Joseph Smith


History of the Church, Vol.5, pp.336-37

David Steindl-Rast. The Mystical Core of Organized Religion. First appeared in ReVision, Summer 1989
12(1):11-14. Digital copy found at